Hamilton City Council will receive up to $1.459 million from Government to reimburse Council’s costs in responding to the Three Waters Reform over the next year.
Council unanimously agreed to enter a contract with Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) for the funding. Council has always advocated that costs of the reform should be met by Government, not by ratepayers. The first tranche of funding is available now, with a second tranche expected to provide a further $1.39 million for Hamilton in the 2023/24 year.
Also at today’s meeting, Council requested the Chief Executive seek an extension of time or deadline waiver from the DIA for a separate funding application as part of a national ‘Better Off’ fund. The original deadline for consideration of the offer was September 30, 2022.
Under the reform, from July 2024 Council’s water, wastewater and stormwater services would be managed by a new regional entity, incorporating 22 councils across the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Taranaki. In the next two years Council is working to ensure the transfer of these services protects the quality of service to residents and considers Council’s existing strategic planning.
The $1.459 million in transition funding confirmed today will go towards costs of researching and providing data to the DIA and a National Transition Unit established to smooth the transition to new entities. Other funded work will include ensuring Hamilton’s asset management and operational experience is integrated into planning for the entity, assessing current supplier contracts, reporting on financial arrangements, and informing staff and the public through the transition period.
Staff confirmed signing the transition funding agreement does not impose any requirements on Council to endorse the reform programme and places no restrictions on Council’s ability to comment on the reform or any developing legislation.
Seismic Policy rescinded
In another item at today’s meeting, the release of new national guidelines and advice on managing earthquake prone buildings has seen Council rescind a policy it established in 2017.
Council noted the Seismic Performance of Council Buildings Policy was established to guide management of buildings owned by Council which were identified as earthquake prone.
Since the policy was established the national earthquake prone building system continues to evolve and in July 2022 the Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published new guidelines on the continued use of buildings that are earthquake prone.
The availability of national guidelines and a greater understanding of the process as the national system has rolled out in recent years has meant there is no need for Council to have its own policy.
Council unanimously approved the policy is rescinded.